As a follow-up to Dambala’s post on riotcasting and the New Orleans Societal Havoc Indicator Test (NOSHIT), here’s an article about the work of game theorist, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. Despite how this self-proclaimed rational Nostradamus prognosticates medium-sized conflicts and political successions, couldn’t foresee 9/11 and the not trivial unraveling of the situation in Iraq and denies local specifics as important to sociopolitical predictions, his track record is still an interesting read. The following is the crux of Bueno de Mesquita’s theory.
In the foreboding world view of rational choice, everyone is a raging dirtbag. Bueno de Mesquita points to dictatorships to prove his point: If you liberate people from the constraint of having to satisfy other people in order to advance themselves, people don’t do good things. When analyzing a problem in international relations, Bueno de Mesquita doesn’t give a whit about the local culture, history, economy, or any of the other considerations that more traditional political scientists weigh. In fact, rational choicers like Bueno de Mesquita tend to view such traditional approaches with a condescension bordering on disdain. One is the study of politics as an expression of personal opinion as opposed to political science, he says dryly.
He gives an innovative solution to post-conflict Palestine, portions of it possibly applicable to New Orleans and its crime problem.
“In a peaceful world, what do the Palestinians anticipate will be their main source of economic viability? Tourism. This is what their own documents say. And, of course, the Israelis make a lot of money from tourism, and that revenue is very easy to track. As a starting point requiring no trust, no mutual cooperation, I would suggest that all tourist revenue be [divided by] a fixed formula based on the current population of the region, which is roughly 40 percent Palestinian, 60 percent Israeli. The money would go automatically to each side. Now, when there is violence, tourists don’t come. So the tourist revenue is automatically responsive to the level of violence on either side for both sides …”
Edit: Local quirks and conditions aren’t important to such prediction machines, these theorists explain. Then, why don’t we experience chaos and predictable election results in New Orleans? If various factors in New Orleans make it ready for a race or socioeconomic riot, what keeps it from happening? My bets are on the apathy of the majority of the local populace, their inability to organize effectively and greater readiness to eat, drink and pass a good time (very much a local flavor). D believes it will take something simpler, like a great fire that eats up whole neighborhoods caused by extended drought or more nooses hanging around the Greater New Orleans area. Of course, another possibility is nothing happening, which would be ideal and well within the statistical parameters.
Related: Play Prognosticate and “use your powers of deduction to predict what happens next in today’s news stories.” It’s a lot of fun, only irritating when picky about grammar and choice of synonyms.